Best Picture winner Parasite is a film a lot of people are getting exposed to. Even after watching it, there’s still a lot you probably don’t know.
Parasite was one of the most celebrated movies of 2019. At the 92nd Academy Awards, it became the first non-English film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. It also won three more Oscars including Best Director. Bong Joon-ho, the brains behind the movie, cheekily admitted that he thought he was done for the night after winning Best Foreign Language film, only for more awards to pour in.
The South Korean film was praised because unlike previous Oscar-winning films, it had a fast-paced story that was rich in wildly entertaining moments. The movie revolves around the less-fortunate members of the Kim family who infiltrate the home of the wealthy Park family through devious means and manage to get employment there.
Here are some behind-the-scenes facts about Parasite you probably didn’t know.
What Is Ram-Don?
The little but essential details in Parasite are why the movie sits at the top in most ranking websites, including Letterboxd. For example, the Parks are said to love a meal called Ram-Don. Mrs. Kim is even asked to prepare the meal quickly when the Parks return to the house unexpectedly. But what exactly is Ram-Don?
Actually, no such word exists. The word was coined by the Parasite’s translator. However, the meal is a real one and it’s called Jjapaguri. This word was considered too hard to translate, hence the name Ram-Don. The meal is common in South Korea and it consists of black bean instant noodles and spicy seafood instant noodles.
The Movie Is Inspired By Bong Joon-ho’s Own Experience
When he was in college, the Oscar-winning director worked as a tutor to the children of a rich couple in Seoul. This served as inspiration for the spine of the movie’s plot. Bong imagined how things would turn out if a private tutor like him turned out to be devious and tried to trick his wealthy employers into employing his entire poor family.
Bong has also confessed that he felt like he was spying on the couple he was working for at times. This experience in his life fascinated him so much that he even agreed to direct a Parasite remake series for HBO. Let’s hope it will be good too.
Cast And Character Connections To Previous Films
Lee Jeong-eun portrays the first housekeeper to the Parks who ends up being unceremoniously fired after a devious scheme by Mr. Kim. Lee Jeong-eun also voiced the genetically modified pig named Okja in Bong Joon-ho’s Netflix movie Okja.
The name Namgoong is also used in two Bong Jong-ho films. In Parasite, it’s the name of the architect that designed the Park mansion. Kang-ho Song’s character in Bong’s other film Snowpiercer is also called Namgoong. Song has appeared in several of Bong’s films.
Kim Ki-woo And Kim Ki-jung’s Song
Kim Ki-woo is the first one to infiltrate the Park family. When Mrs. Park implies that she needs an art tutor for her soon, Ki-woo tells his sister Kim Ki-jung to pretend to be one. She manages to do so quite convincingly, thus getting employment from the Parks too.
Before Ki-woo introduces her to Mrs. Park, they sing a song at the entrance. This is a song commonly used in South Korea to help school children in memorizing complex things. Since Ki-jung needed to not contradict Ki-woo, she had to sing the song to memorize the things she had been told.
The Kim Family Home Isn’t Real
In the movie, the residence of the Kims is made to appear as though it is in a slum. However, it is not a real house. It was only built on set to be used in the movie. The same applies to the alleyway as well as the neighboring houses.
There was only a small portion of the house that the cast could be in. The rest of it was a water tank where all the water needed during filming was drawn from. All this is impossible to notice in the movie since everything looks so real.
It Could Have Been A Play
Parasite could have ended up on Broadway or somewhere similar. Then it would never have won all those Oscars. Imagine a parallel universe where all that happened. Plays aren’t bad but we’re absolutely glad that we got the movie.
Director Bong Joon Ho revealed that initially, he had started writing the movie as a play. The story then grew so much that it just had to be a movie. He said: “When I was writing the story I thought about a play. But when I finished it, I ended up writing a screenplay. So it just happened very naturally.”
The Reason It Wasn’t Nominated For Best Picture At The Golden Globes
Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars but it wasn’t even nominated for the same award at the Golden Globes. Did the people at the globes feel it wasn’t good enough? Not really. It all came down to a little stipulation that we feel needs to be changed now.
Parasite wasn’t nominated because the Golden Globes rules state that the dialogue in all the nominated films must be at least 50% English. 99% of Parasite’s dialogue is Korean so it couldn’t qualify. Luckily there are no such stipulations at the Oscars.
The Story Behind The Dirty Floodwater
When the Kims flee from the home of the Parks after hiding for hours, they find that their house has been filled with floodwater. Watching them walk through the water and trying to save whatever they can is emotional. But were the actors asked to step into muddy that was also mixed with sewage water? Not really.
It was actually clean water mixed with clay masks to make it appear dirty. During an interview on the Oscars YouTube channel, Park So Dam, who portrays Kim Ki Jeong said: “Even if it looks really dirty, it was actually pretty clean water. And the contents, it also looks dirty, but it was actually the same product that goes into clays masks for beauty. So it was actually a really nice skincare system for the cast.”
Total Trust In The Director
Popular Korean actors Choi Woo-shik and Song Kang-ho, who play Kim Ki-woo and Ki-taek respectively, had no idea what Parasite was about when they accepted their roles in it. Their total trust in the director made them sign up for whatever he was making without asking any questions.
Both of them had worked with Bong Joon-ho before and the good experience they had on set made them more than ready to do it again. Great directors always have strong relationships with the cast and this is definitely more proof of Bong’s awesomeness.
Allergic To Peaches?
In the movie, the first housekeeper is said to be allergic to peaches. Mr. Kim uses peaches to make her cough and appear as though she has tuberculosis. Mrs. Park is thus forced to fire here. But where did Bong get the crazy idea of peaches?
Apparently, the director once went on a trip with a pal who had a peaches allergy. Bong thought it was a joke because he had never had such a thing. But when someone tossed a peach at Bong’s friend, he immediately had an allergy attack. Bong recalled the incident many years later and used the idea in the film.